When Sally Baker thinks of what the world is like for girls today she sees a place where one in about four girls are sexually victimized before 18; women only make $.76 for every dollar a man makes; it is okay for boys to discuss your body in school; CEOs don’t look like them; and everything tells girls that their sex appeal and appearance are the only things they should care about.
She also sees a world where that is changing.
“When you educate a girl she makes a difference for her family, her community and has the power to change the world,” said Baker, who founded the White Plains based Girls Inc. Westchester in 2007. “We know the value and importance of society investing in girls and the difference it makes.”
Society will get to make that investment at Girls Inc. Westchester’s second Power of the Purse event tonight (Oct. 25) from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Life: The Place to Be, 2 Lawrence St. in Ardsley. Tickets are $200 at the door and includes cocktails, dinner, a silent auction, runway show, live auctions, raffles and a wine wall.
“We’re holding the event to celebrate girls and the people in Westchester who care about, support girls and want to invest in their future,” said Baker, who lives in Hastings-on-Hudson with her husband Peter Scotch, a Hastings High School teacher, and daughter Hannah Scotch, a Farragut Middle School student.
“We want girls to know they are important and they matter and there are people who have their backs.”
Girls Inc. Westchester works to eliminate stereotypes, by empowering and inspiring girls to become strong, independent and confident leaders through its after school programs for under-served females, many who are of color.
The non-profit organization is part of the national Girls Inc., which is 145-year-old and has more than 90 chapters in the U.S. and Canada. Girls Inc. has been recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama, has had its programs become a part of the Clinton Global Initiative and has been named as a top five high-impact youth serving organization by Philanthropedia.
Funding from the Power of the Purse event will go toward Girls Inc. Westchester’s current programs—in Yonkers, White Plains, Sleepy Hollow, New Rochelle, Mamaroneck and Ossining—and increasing its outreach.
Girls Inc. Westchester latest endeavor is the launching of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program that will be aimed at middle school girls.
“We know that girls too often are discouraged in math and science and don’t see themselves as excelling in those subject areas,” said Baker. “With encouragement and support they can excel in those subjects and see themselves with futures in science, engineering and computer programming.”
According to Baker:
- women constitute 45% of the workforce in the US but hold only 12% of science and engineering jobs in business and industry
- in 2008 women accounted for just 24.8% of all those employed in computer and mathematical occupations, 6.7% of mechanical engineers, and 6.3% of engineering managers. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- of the 4.9 million science and engineering workers, Black women represent only 2% of the workforce and Hispanic women just 1.2%
Baker said that girls are turned off from these subjects as early elementary school since there aren’t many women scientists portrayed in the media, and females represent only about one in five faculty members employed in computer science, mathematics, engineering and physical sciences. In engineering, its one in ten.
One of the main of the goals of the STEM program is to provide girls with female mentors in those fields, like Jane Snowdon an IBM engineer, so they are better able to picture themselves in STEM careers. Snowdon and other inspiring women like— U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey and Darlene Rodriquez WNBC’s co-anchor of Today in New York—will be recognized for their contributions to girls at Thursday’s event.
“It’s going to be a really fun party and it’s all going to support Girls Inc. programs so we can reach more girls and let them know they can have whatever future they imagine, and be whatever they see themselves as and not what they see in the media, which can be one dimensional,” said Baker. “There are people who value them for who they are, who recognize the strong, smart and bold within them and believe in it and support them.”